The ticking clock on aging airframes
I enlisted in the Air Force in 1969 and my first assignment was with an air-refueling squadron equipped with KC-135 tankers. Our “Lead the Fleet” aircraft was from the initial block of aircrafts produced by Boeing. Others of our 21 airplanes were produced in 1957 and 1962. They were old by commercial-airplane standards, but still very serviceable.
I saw one of these same airplanes at an air show at Mountain Home Air Force Base last September, almost 40 years later. We are putting our young servicemen and women in peril by asking them to operate such old equipment.
Now our elected representatives are haggling over whether or not to buy both of the new tankers on the market, while the clock ticks on the aging airframes. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who voted for every reduction in military spending through both Clinton administrations and touted the “Peace Dividend,” now decries the need for new hardware in the post 9/11 era. How disingenuous.
The need for a new tanker has become a jobs program among members of Congress, many of whom screwed up the last deal. There is absolutely no reason for us to have the slightest confidence in their ability to make a good choice now.
What Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., suggests about a dual buy is absurd and ludicrous. To do that would mean twice the sustaining cost to operate the fleet for the life cycle of the airframe. We would need twice the training and crew-proficiency facilities, simulators, spare parts, logistical support, technical support and much more.
Congress made the same mistake when, under pressure from California, they tried to bolster up McDonnell Douglas by producing the KC-10 to save a failing DC-10 production line.
The military-procurement system is broken, decisions are being made in Congress that have nothing to do with getting the best airframe for the Air Force or value for the taxpayer.
I spent my working life in the aerospace industry and know the business pretty well. I can say with conviction that the clock is ticking on aging airframes. Our elected representatives should be ashamed of themselves for this political ploy.
— Steven Pennington Sr., Edmonds
Ridiculous overseas bids
After reading the article, “Still made in America? Sure is” [Business, Feb. 17], it was nice to see many high-end products are still being produced in the U.S.
It is ridiculous when the U.S. government gives millions of dollars to overseas companies such as Airbus for large military-airplane bids. This money should be kept on U.S. soil by negotiating with Boeing to keep the money in our economy.
I understand that many products can be produced in peripheral countries at a lower expense to the company and consumer, but this degrades the American worker. During this difficult economic time, we, as a capitalist society, must create or try to keep more factory jobs available to U.S. workers.
I believe the Boeing example in this article is an excellent solution. By changing the way factories operate, such as “one-way flow,” we can keep more factory jobs on U.S. soil.
The ability to use new technologies and more efficient ways of streamlining work will increase the availability of factory jobs during this time of economic turmoil.
— Taylor Griffith, Shoreline